Max Korpinen is a Finnish Human Resource Generalist currently working at a Virtual Reality hardware startup in Tokyo, Japan. Wearing many hats in his position, his focus in his current role includes domestic and international recruitment, employee engagement, and improving company culture. You can find Max on Twitter at @MaxKorpinen and on Linkedin at Max Korpinen.
Matt Benfield is a recent graduate of Appalachian State University and is currently working for DHL as a data analytics intern in Frankfurt, Germany. Matt is also a freelance writer, and his work can be found at his blog Everyday Pride as well as Huffington Post. The following is transcript of an interview with minor editing for brevity.
I am sure you have noticed that when you go to the grocery store near your home, the one you have been to a thousand times before, you are not really engaged in the activity itself. However, take a trip to a grocery store in, say, Tokyo, and suddenly shopping for groceries is a very engaging activity! You gawk at the interesting fresh foods they sell, you giggle at the funny foreign food brands, you buy different treats to try that you have never tried before. What fun!
But why? Why is it that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t muster this “new experience,” in your local Wal-mart?
Turns out that neuroscience and psychology have the answer.
Let’s assume that you have received an offer from a company to work abroad or your company is interested in sending you on a long term international assignment. You are super psyched, but they are adjusting your salary based on the cost of living in your perspective country.
You now need to figure out if 1.) their salary offer is fair and 2.) what kind of life the offered salary will afford you and 3.) will it allow you put aside some cash for the future.
Luckily, there are a couple of methods for determining the cost of living for the lifestyle you are comfortable with, without even stepping foot in your prospective country.
For four years of college, and very likely the following year or two, you surround yourself with your closest friends. You live, eat, sleep, study, and go to class with them. They are your neighbors, they work at the coffee shop you go to, they are everywhere, omnipresent among the madness of college.
And then you land a job abroad. And everything changes.
Let me feed the Millennial stereotype that Millennials all think they are special by saying: millennials are a special generation.
Well, maybe not special, but we are unique. We are coming of age at a time when the world has never been more globalized (which, yes is the case with most generations) or when working remotely has been easier or more widely accepted. We are also the most technologically savvy generation and the most liberal in terms of our openness to new cultures and new ideas.
When you begin searching for jobs, or doing research before you accept an international offer, one of the biggest factors to consider is where you might want to live and what type of living environment lends itself best to the lifestyle you are comfortable with. I want to call into question your potential tendency to write-off “developing” countries before learning more about them. You or people around you may assume that developing countries are dangerous, dirty or generally unpleasant to live in, and I want challenge that as someone from the United States, living in Vietnam.
New studies on the topic of millennials working abroad as professionals are regularly being published and they help frame the current state of moving abroad for work, as well as provide some context for where people are moving to. These studies are far from conclusive, but they will help us get a feel for the current state of what has previously been an alternative career path. So, what do studies show about working internationally?